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ROH review

Posted in Dan Yeager Reviews by Neal at 00:23, Nov 07 2021

A Review of ROH

By "Leather Face" Dan Yeager

Horror is universal. Somebody should print that on paper towels. To that point, I watched Roh, a recent horror movie from, I think, Malaysia. (At least it said Malaysia in the end credits.) I don't read whatever language the titles are in, but it doesn't matter. I don't understand the mythological basis of the story, which I gather is a form of Islam. The movie opens with a quote reputed to be from the Koran. I'm not up on my Koran verses even as well as my Bible verses, but again, it doesn't matter.

What I did get out of it was this: “Roh” means “Soul,” according to the subtitles, but I don't think it's Soul like we Western Folk think of it. I think it's more of an actual spirit in this context. But it doesn't matter. You'll understand it when you see it. (See platitude above.)

The Devil, in this story, was ejected from the heavenly realm and spends his time messing with people, just waiting out the Resurrection. To that end, this poor mother and her two kids live in a hut in the jungle making charcoal (no doubt to sell in the nearby village across the river, often mentioned but never shown) and grooving to life's vibes. They have what they need and things are cool until the Devil starts with his tricks. It's scary because you never know who is possessed. The movie keeps you wonderfully off balance that way. And it's full of creepy kids; really creepy, I mean, because most kids are just kind of creepy as a baseline.

I won't even try to tell you the story. I will have to watch it a couple more times before I think I really understand it, and I'll have to read up on Muslim lore. For the most part, you don't need to understand cultural references to enjoy the ride. My only real criticism of the movie is that the subtitles go too fast. I found myself looking around the screen at the beautifully shot pictures when I needed to be reading the dialog. They leave the titles up only while the character is speaking, which just doesn't give me enough time.

There is this hunter guy who stalks this little girl. He has one creepily milky eye. Eventually, we see him with his eye cleared up, and then it goes back to milky. I haven't figured out what that means yet, but I'll work on it.

I love seeing movies from so foreign (to me) a culture. I was a little worried they were going to over-indulge in animal cruelty (by Western standards) because early on we see a dead deer hanging in a tree. It is not without purpose to the story, though, and the sacrifices of live birds through the rest of the movie were deftly handled with cinematic precision. It is a rather brutal movie in places, but only as it serves the story. It warms my old heart to know that kids are just as creepy in the jungles of Malaysia as they are on the streets of America.

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